(Chapter 30 of Senses)
"I repeat my earlier comment," Dylan said. "They're going to lock me up."
Dark had thought out much of their plan well. As is usually the case on a mid-summer late night, Alcatraz was fogged in. At first Larry had thought that this would be a hindrance to Black, until he realized that this would insure that only the people on Alcatraz would know what was going on at any given moment. And that given the amount of time they had and the time of day, the only boats they would be able to find would probably be controlled by Donovan and his group.
Morgana's plan took that into account. She rented a small boat herself while Larry and Rand did the same, using her instructions to rent identical boats. The two boats met just beyond pier 39, just far enough out so that the fog blocked all views from shore. Aside from the occasional seal lion, they were undisturbed.
It was the next part of the plan that had Dylan in an uproar. "The department will have my head," he said. "Do you know the budget we have? I'll never be able to replace this boat!"
"Don't worry," Morgana said. "A few hours won't hurt the boat any. Then we'll just right it again and return it to the owner. All we'll lose is the damage deposit. Maybe the engine."
"Don't worry about it," Larry said. "If push comes to shove I'll pay for it."
"And how are you going to do that?" Dylan asked.
"I'm rich," Larry replied, with a sly smile. "Family business."
"Will you people shut up?" Rand said. The strain was really showing on him. He had already admitted to himself that it wasn't enough to catch these guys. He wanted revenge.
Dylan nodded. "Let's get on with it," he said.
Larry calculated how far from the pier they were. "We'll be able to get within fifty yards before you cut me loose," he said. "Morgana, you'd better be right about this water. It has a reputation."
Morgana smiled. "You won't be staying in the water, just getting wet. You might catch a cold is all. Besides, if they weren't lying about wanting you alive, they'll probably give you dry clothes or at least a cup of hot chocolate."
Larry sighed. "If this doesn't work, you're fired."
Morgana laughed aloud. "If this doesn't work, you won't be able to fire me."
They tied the two boats together and used one to tow the other. They had to use some guesswork, but at about the one-hundred yard mark they stopped. Without a word, they got to work capsizing the second boat. Although it wasn't as easy as they had thought it would be, they managed to get it done. Larry then saluted his friends, and then jumped into the water. With only some difficulty did he manage not to scream in reaction to the cold.
Dylan tossed Larry a rope and aided him in climbing onto the second boat. "Good luck," Rand shouted to him. Larry waved in response, and then lay on the hull.
Dylan, Rand, and Morgana towed the second boat for another 30 yards, building up momentum, then released the tow line to the second boat. Larry waved again as he passed the first boat, then began his trek towards the pier.
After a few minutes, Larry could barely make out the dock at Alcatraz island. He shouted, "Help! Somebody help me!" Before I freeze to death, he added to himself.
It took another few minutes, but the people on the dock launched a rescue and picked Larry up, taking him to the island. They hurriedly rushed him up to the main prison was and got him a change of clothes, just as Morgana had thought. Once he was dry and relatively warm, he had a visitor.
"Mr. Christopher," the visitor said, "I'm Donovan Silver. Nice to finally meet you."
Larry looked up. He realized he was in the old mess hall for the prison. Donovan and seven others were also in the room, but the others kept their distance.
"Yeah, right," Larry said.
"Now now, we saved your life a few moments ago," Donovan admonished.
Larry nodded, and shivered. "Just my luck. Did you plan on this too?"
Donovan smiled. "No, actually. What happened?"
"Your guess is as good as mine. One minute we're in the boat on our way here and the next I'm in the water."
"We?" Donovan asked. "Who else?"
"Rand, Detective Dylan, a few others."
Dylan nodded, and began to pace. "Well, that settles that. They won't be as lucky as you without some kind of raft. I'm told you only get a few minutes in the water before you go into shock. It's been more than a few minutes." He motioned to the others. "Two of you get Constance and take her back to shore. Release her."
The others looked among themselves for a moment, trying to decide who to send.
"Leave us," Donovan said. "Settle it outside." They left.
"You'll let her go, just like that?" Larry asked.
"Just like that. She's of no use to us now, with Rand gone, and she certainly won't be able to trace us before we're long gone."
"We?" Larry asked.
"No, not you. You still have a use, but then you'll be taken back as well. Unharmed aside from what will probably be a real nasty cold from your spill in the water. Maybe you can have Constance back for yourself now. You've earned it. Now that Rand's gone, there's still that medallion. You can have her again."
Larry reddened, but said nothing.
"Yes, I know all about that," Donovan said. "How Rand stole your girl. No one recovers from that type of wound fully, no matter how cool they are."
Larry shook his head. "You don't get it at all, do you?" he stated. "You don't understand the concept of friendship."
"Explain it to me."
"A person can love more than one person. Connie loves us both. Rand she loves more. Because they are both my friends, I can bow out. It hurts, but it's the right thing to do."
Now Donovan shook his head. "You're right," he said. "I don't understand it. Not that it matters any. Rand is gone. You're alive. Who do you think she'll want?"
"I ought to beat the shit out of you right now," Larry said. He stood and assumed a fighter's stance.
Donovan was unimpressed. "Not your style," he said, "not even the swearing."
Larry tried to keep it up for a moment longer, then sagged back down into the chair he had been sitting in. "This has been one long day," he said.
Donovan agreed. "Yes, it has, but it's almost over now. All I need from you is the answer to a single question, and then we're done. I'll send you home."
"What about Ms. Tomlinson?"
"Not your concern. Just answer my question."
Larry had run out of things to say. "What question?"
Donovan faced Larry directly. "Can men fly?" he asked.
Larry was completely thrown. "Excuse me?"
Donovan chuckled. "No one has ever thought to ask, have they? You are one of the rare people anywhere who have met empowered beings. Rand, myself, and a few others who have visited your shop. But none of us can fly. Rumor tells me you can."
Larry was dumbstruck for possibly the first time in his life. All of this wild chase, based upon what was so huge a mistake! Yet so close to the mark! If he survived all of this, he'd have to tell his brothers. He'd have to ask Jim sometime if he'd used the talent in public. Someday this mistaken identity thing between Larry and Jim would get them into trouble. Like now. It was so absurd that Larry actually began to laugh.
"What's so funny," Donovan said, a questioning look on his face.
After a moment of laughing, Larry pulled himself together enough to answer. "I can not fly," he finally said. "Unlike you, I am not an empowered being." Larry began to laugh again.
Donovan began to mumble to himself, and Larry stopped laughing as he realized that Donovan was casting a spell. Then Donovan took a step back, startled. "You're telling the truth!" he blurted.
"That's right, I am. But you don't need to cast a soothsayer spell to determine that. How bloody ridiculous could you possibly be?" Larry began to laugh again.
"But we have sources! You've been caught in the act!"
"Fly? Men flying? Me? For hopefully the last time, I sell books for a living. I used to be a schoolteacher. That's all."
Donovan shook his head. "I don't get it. Our sources are usually so good that I...." Donovan stood still for a moment, and Larry realized that the hard part had begun.
Donovan shook his finger at Larry. "Clever," he said. "Very clever. Dylan and Rand have captured my two men and now have Constance. Two boats. Very clever. And yes, one of them has sent me a warning about..." A pause. "Yes, I'd do that too. Rand has neutralized my man."
"Man?" Larry asked. "You said two..."
"There were two. One wasn't empowered - my only unempowered follower, in fact. I made a mistake in letting them chose the party to escort Constance back. Damn. You've left me with only five. This changes things, of course."
"Of course," Larry added.
"Looks like you're involved in the Tomlinson deal after all. Please come with me."
"What if I want to stay here?" Larry asked.
"Then I'll send someone back here and have you dragged. You are still necessary for just a bit longer, I'm afraid."
Rand tied the last knot, then tested it to make sure the prisoners were secure. Then he turned to Dylan. "There are six others, including Donovan," he said.
"You're sure?" Dylan asked. After getting a look from Rand, he just shook his head. "Okay, okay, you're sure."
"And they know we're coming."
"We need to get to the dock before they do then," Morgana said.
Dylan needed no further instruction and started the motor. They reached the dock in moments, unblocked by anyone.
"Where are they?" Dylan asked.
"Don't know," Morgana replied.
"Now that we have some of them, I can," Rand said. He stood and began to chant. After a moment, he said, "They're all in what I assume is the prison courtyard. So's Larry and a woman. I also get some others in the prison, but they're not Wiccan or anyone I know. Probably the island regulars."
"What?" Dylan almost froze, dumbstruck.
Morgana laughed. "Congratulations, Allen," she said. "We've just witnessed a spell being cast."
"Is the woman Ms. Tomlinson?" Dylan asked, hopeful.
"I don't know," Rand answered. "I would assume so. I've never met her so I can't tell you for sure."
"What about comparing her to the other Tomlinsons?"
"I only met Roger once, and he wasn't himself. I can only guess."
Dylan nodded. "It's a safe guess considering the circumstances."
"We're wasting time," Rand said. "Let's go."
The three of them began the long ascent up the hill to the prison. The path up doubles back twice, so the going was slow. Dylan insisted that they use caution, even though Rand insisted that all of the Dark Wiccans were in the courtyard beyond the prison.
"We won't be able to go around," Dylan observed.
"True," Rand replied. "We'll need to go through the prison. Perhaps we'll find the others."
Working through the prison, they were all unnerved by the quiet. It was as if the prison were abandoned. The only signs of inhabitation were the lights, which were all on. That changed when they reached "C" Block.
Within the cells were a total of fifteen people, three to a cell. All wore U.S. Parks Service uniforms. All were bound and gagged. Dylan found the release mechanism for the cells and the party of three quickly released the prisoners. Dylan began to question the supervisor.
"How many of them are there?" he asked.
"There are eight of them," the supervisor replied. "You should see what they're doing in the courtyard!"
"Eight," Morgana noted. "We already got two, so Rand's right."
"Of course I'm right," Rand said, attempting humor.
Dylan ignored both of them. "What are they doing?"
"They've got some big boat, a barge I think," the supervisor said. "They've got this huge crane on it and it's suspending over the old exercise yard."
"Jesus! That thing must be huge!" Dylan said.
"And with an awful lot of counter-ballast," Morgana added.
"Is there any way we can see into the courtyard without being seen from the prison?" Rand asked. "We probably don't have much time."
"There is," the supervisor replied, "but we have to get onto the roof."
"How do we do that?" Dylan asked.
"There's an exterior ladder, but you'd be visible from the courtyard."
"Damn!" Dylan yelled.
"Quiet," Morgana said. "So far we don't seem to be noticed. Let's not tip our hand, shall we?"
"We need a distraction," Morgana said.
"I've got one," Rand replied. "You two get onto the roof. I'll supply the diversion."
"No!" Dylan yelled, quieter this time. "You are a civilian, god damn it! I can not let you put your life in jeopardy. This whole idea was shaky from the start."
"Too late," Rand said. "I'm already here, and besides, this is personal. Donovan Silver used to be a friend of mine, and he wants me here. I'd like to oblige him."
Dylan sighed a long sigh. "They're not going to lock me up," he said, "but they will suspend me."
Rand clapped Dylan on the back. "Fuck 'em if they can't take a Curse," he said. Without waiting for a response, he walked towards the exit to the courtyard.
Dylan looked to the departed witch in amazement. "Right," he finally said. He turned to the park supervisor. "How do we get up there?"
Rand had shouted to get everyone's attention and was glad he had, because the sight below mystified him. All of Donovan's followers were gathered in the courtyard around their leader, chanting. A crane reached from the boat just beyond the rocks that made up the shore of the island. It reached all the way to the ground, where a level platform capped the whole thing off. Resting on the platform, unconscious, was Ms. Tomlinson.
A rope extended from a bend in the crane, which was attached to a chair, where Larry sat. Larry was not tied down and appeared unencumbered in any way. Donovan arose from the center of the chanting group and faced the stairs up to the prison.
"Rand!" he shouted. "Come on down, I've been expecting you."
Rand slowly came down the stairs. "I kind of thought so," he replied. "That trick with the boats didn't fool you long, so you had to know I was coming. You and I are going to do battle."
"Yes. Yes we are," Donovan said. He motioned Rand all the way into the courtyard. "And I'm going to win."
"Too much bravado. Care to test it?"
"In a moment. Aren't you curious as to all of this?" Donovan made a sweeping gesture.
Rand had to admit he was curious. "We appear to have time. What is it?"
"A contraption to insure the sacrifice goes off as planned. You know the rules of a Troikal sacrifice. Rule one, one victim dies at the hands of the empowered..."
"Rule two, one victim dies by curse," Rand continued.
"Rule three," Larry added, "one victim dies at the hands of the unempowered, preferably unintentionally, preferably naturally."
"Larry, you all right?" Rand asked.
"So far," he said. "But I can't get up."
"He won't get up, he means," Donovan said. "You see, if he gets up, the trigger is released on the crane and it becomes a catapult. Ms. Tomlinson winds up in the ocean and drowns. Our efforts to create the third death have been failing for some time now, so we hatched all this."
"How Rube Goldberg of you. You're a vicious fuck," Rand said.
"How kind," Donovan said. "Care to fight now?"
"Still think you'll win?"
"Yes, I do."
"Don't think so."
"Are you referring to Detective Bob Dylan, up on the roof over there?" Silver pointed to the roof above the courtyard. "He's accounted for as well."
"What are you talking about?" Rand asked.
"You missed it, as I intended you to. The Park Supervisor is one of mine and unempowered. He was my absolute fallback plan, and still is, should Larry not work out here. He'll take care of your cop."
"Damn," Rand replied. With that he launched his first attack against Donovan, which was countered as if expected.
"What are they doing?" Dylan asked.
From their position on the roof, the whole courtyard could easily be seen. About the contraption reaching from the sea to the ground they could only guess.
"It looks like a fight," Morgana said. "Probably one of these fights of wills Rand told us about."
"Well, as long as they don't get close to one another I can take the bad guys down," Dylan replied.
"Is that legal?"
"It is, as long as lives are at stake. That's how S.W.A.T. teams work. The idea is to take away the threat to life."
Morgana gulped. "Are you saying that those bloody Mel Gibson movies are closer to fact than I thought?"
Dylan chuckled. "Those aren't movies, those are cartoons. But you're right."
"Forgive me if I don't watch."
"Then don't." Dylan picked up his pistol and aimed, waiting for the right moment.
Rand was losing the fight.
Both men were sweating a storm, but Rand was clearly losing. He had fallen to his knees and was breathing hard, as if about to collapse from exhaustion. Larry was almost out of his chair when he remembered the tenuousness of his own situation.
Donovan caught it. "Come on Larry," he said, sneering, "help your friend. Help him or he dies!"
"I refuse to let you make me have such a choice!" Larry shouted back. "I'm as tied down here as if you used real rope!"
"I lied!" Donovan shouted back. "She's in no danger! If you get up she won't be thrown into the sea!"
Larry knew better. Years of observation paid off. "That's the first lie you've told me all evening!"
Donovan stared at Larry for a moment in surprise. "But you're not empowered," he said, shaking his head.
Morgana had an insight. She was fighting with it in her mind, because this insight she didn't like. For the first time in her life, she decided to go against the grain of an insight and take an active part in fighting it.
"Detective," she said.
"Not now," Dylan replied.
"Turn around," she said.
Dylan thought about it for a moment, then did so. He then brought up the gun towards Morgana and fired. Morgana didn't even flinch, though it took a great deal of effort. She instead slowly turned around.
The park supervisor was lying in a pool of blood, dead. In each hand was a knife.
"You too?" Dylan asked. "You knew that was coming?"
"Sort of," Morgana replied. "If I hadn't said anything, you'd be dead now. And yes, I'm empowered too."
Donovan was already distracted when the shot rang out. The gunshot forced him to lose his concentration completely.
Rand seized the moment and it was over quickly. Donovan Silver was shut down. Without a second's pause, he went after the other Black Wiccans and shut them down quickly. He neutralized them with a single spell.
Rand turned to the platform Ms. Tomlinson lay on and gently eased her off. She was still out, but appeared fine. He then signaled to Larry that he could stand up.
Larry did so, and the crane snapped upright with a loud crack. Ms. Tomlinson would have been thrown into the sea had Larry stood. Larry joined Rand and determined that Ms. Tomlinson would probably be fine. After a moment, Dylan and Morgana joined them.
"The Park supervisor," Larry said.
"We know," Dylan replied. "He's dead."
Larry pieced it all together in his head from the expressions on the faces of Dylan and Morgana. "Then it's over," he said.
Morgana had another insight. "Yes," she said,
"it's over." She then collapsed.